The Grit in Integrity

July 19, 2011 at 4:17 PM 1 comment

So here’s a worst nightmare scenario for me (fictionalized)

A parent who is an eminent professor of the subject I teach wants to meet to find out why his daughter is getting an A- instead of an A.  As I try to head off this un-needed meeting, his tone becomes slightly threatening and he is very definite. It’s a red flag situation and on the bright side, it gives me a moment to think how I’m going to handle it this time.

Last time, it was clear that he thought the curriculum was insufficiently rigorous and that project based learning was a waste of time. He belittled his daughters intellect when she tried to defend what we were doing in class. She obviously admires her dad, and looked crushed. Like I said, a nightmare. How to handle it?

My interests are to maintain the relationship between his daughter, him and me – we’ll have to continue working together this school year and her dad will always be her dad. But also to protect us from being hurt by him. No one gets an open season on me or my students.

Just sitting there and taking it? Not an option I’m willing to take. Done that, watched a child die on the vine in an IEP with an unintentionally cruel parent. (I hope unintentionally).

How about this:

1. A warning: “This discussion is becoming an argument. Let’s talk about … “(fill in something of high interest to the dad, that I have thought of ahead of time.)

2. If he continues un-abated, then I will get up, stop the meeting and say that it will continue this another time, perhaps by e mail, or with a third party present, and leave the room.

It helps me to think it through ahead of time. Forearmed gives me the patina of confidence that seems right there to head off the feared behavior.

Sound workable? Sound fair? Tempting to call him on it, make threats or totally withdraw, but perhaps this is the most gracious and effective way forward? Your thoughts?

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Entry filed under: Class Management, Reflections.

Wisdom overheard on the Oxford bus… The gift of good enough

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Karen  |  July 26, 2011 at 9:13 AM

    I enjoyed your mental rehersal of handling an agressive parent. I have been mulling over similar situations but when it when it is me that gets upset (like your parent). Often I find the “charge” is rooted in a fear or twarted expectation on my part. What disfuses it is simply recognizing the source of the strong feelings. The issue may still need a solution but the anger, frustration, oppositional behaviour is defused.
    So how does that help me in dealing with with a parent who is being agressive? I find acknowledging the fear or frustration goes along way. Of course if that doesn’t work, I think your response does maintain your and the students right not to be abused.

    Like

    Reply

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